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Robbie Williams kicks off World Cup with obscene gesture

© AFP | Former 'Take That' star Robbie Williams made a controversial gesture during the opening ceremony

MOSCOW (AFP) - 

British pop star Robbie Williams caused a stir during his performance at the World Cup opening ceremony in Moscow on Thursday by making an obscene gesture to a camera.

The former Take That frontman raised his middle finger at the end of his performance at the Luzhniki Stadium after appearing to mouth the words "I did this for free".

The 44-year-old performed the opening show alongside Russian soprano Aida Garifullina, with the two singing a duet of his hit solo song 'Angels'.

Williams had also sparked controversy in Russia two years ago for promoting stereotypes about the country with his song 'Party Like a Russian'.

He said when his performance at the ceremony was announced on Monday that it was "a boyhood dream" and would be "an unforgettable show".

Williams was performing in front of 80,000 people at the stadium, and a global television audience of tens of millions.

The ceremony was followed by the opening match with hosts Russia routing Saudi Arabia 5-0.

© 2018 AFP